Donna Summer, the “Queen of Disco” and one of the most successful recording artists of the 1970s and 1980s, died Thursday (May 17) at the age of 63, a representative confirmed to CNN . The singer had cancer and was in Florida at the time of her death.
The column below, written a few years ago, gives some insight as to how much her fans meant to her and how much Donna Summer meant to her fans.
Donna Summer captivated the full house crowd and had them singing and dancing the entire 1 hour and fifteen minutes she was on stage. After returning for a 10 minute encore performance, the audience could not get enough of, “The Disco Diva.”
From the moment the white curtain with the name “DONNA” emblazoned on it in purple light dropped on the stage of CAESARS Atlantic City Circus Maximus Theater, the electricity began. The Disco Diva walked on stage to a standing ovation from an audience filled with fans shouting “Donna we love you!” From the first song, “I Will Go With You,” Donna Summer displayed the enthusiasm and talent that had garnered her fourteen top – 10 hits and four #1 singles in a career that has spanned decades from the 1970’s to today. The high tech lighting, including intermittently appearing disco balls, combined with exceptional sound quality, provided Summer the perfect showcase for her outstanding and special singing talent.
Donna Summer was born Donna Adrian Gains in the Boston, MA area known as Dorchester. Summer became interested in singing at a very early age and when she was 10 years old she began performing with church choirs. “I loved Mahalia Jackson.” It was while singing in the church choir that Summer realized how special her talent was, “I knew then that I had been given a very special gift from God and to me it was just a matter of how to best use it.” At age eighteen, Summer moved to New York to get her start on her entertainment career. She auditioned to replace Melba Moore in the Broadway smash “Hair” which led to the joining of the shows road company and the German production. After a year in Hair she joined the Vienna Folk Opera. “While I was with them, I was in productions of “Showboat” and “Porgy & Bess,” said Summer It was also during this time that Summer married actor Helmut Sommor, which later ended in divorce. Donna Summer kept the name but changed its spelling slightly.
In 1975 record producers Giorgio Moroder, Pete Bellotte and Summer created the song “Love To Love You Baby” which brought forth a string of hits ushering in the disco feeling and in some ways changed the face of the 70’s and 80’s. With each one of her hits that Summer performed the CAESARS audience began dancing, clapping and swaying in time to the music. Those smash hits included; “Hot Stuff, Bad Girls, MacArthur Park, She Works Hard For The Money, Love To Love You Baby, Last Dance, Heaven Knows and On The Radio,” to mention a few. According to Summer, “Of all the songs from those days, I probably still feel most connected to Last Dance. When I sing it, tears come to my eyes. For me, it’s become a poignant song. There were a lot of people in my life who are not with us anymore. It is like I’m singing to the memory of people who are special to me.”
From the first moment on stage to the ending crescendo of the audience screaming and yelling for more, Donna Summer lights up the stage and her audience. Her warmth and approachability is evident when she invited some of the audience up on stage to join her as back-up singers as they all sang “On The Radio.” Her audience has a distinct and undying affinity for the Diva. “She was great years ago and she is even better today,” said Anthony of South Philadelphia. “She has a really powerful voice and a wonderful way about her . . . I really enjoyed her” added Florence . Susan and Michael of Queens New York came to see her because, “I love Donna Summer. I went to one of her concerts in 1977 and in 1995 and I am here to night. In fact I have been a member of her fan club for 3 years now and I think she is the best. . . did I tell you I love her?” repeated Susan bursting into laughter.
Donna Summer official website